Ford expects to report a rise in US vehicle sales for August and its top sales analyst suggested the industry might post its first monthly year on year rise since October 2007.

For the industry, the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of sales in the United States is likely to come in above last August's 13.6m rate, but below the top of recent forecasts after buying dropped off near the end of the month, Ford's George Pipas told Reuters.

But SAAR is not expected to approach the August peak for the rest of 2009 due to the end of the government 'cash for Clunkers' programme, low vehicle stocks and a weak domestic economy, he added.

"Right now, the economy is not sufficiently expanding to support the level of sales we had in August," Pipas said.

Pipas said inventories had been tight at the start of August, after the 'clunkers' programme boosted sales in late July, but then inventories tightened sharply later in August.

It will probably take at least until the end of September for inventories to begin to approach normal levels and they will still be relatively lean at end of next month, Pipas told the news agency.

"When we planned our production for the fourth quarter ... we did so with our eyes wide open, with a full understanding that sales in the next four months would not be as high as what we have seen in August."

Ford had 295,000 cars and trucks in inventory at the end of July, about a 48-day supply, and that will be lower at the end of August, Pipas said.